Coceral lowered the bar on estimates for the European Union
wheat crop, the world's biggest, foreseeing only a small rise in the French harvest,
and a drop below 12m tonnes in the UK's.
The industry group, in its first estimates for the 2013 harvest, pegged EU soft wheat production at
127.8m tonnes, a figure up 3.2m tonnes year on year, but below an estimate on Thursday of 131.6m tonnes from analysis group Strategie
The European Commission earlier in the week pegged the crop even
higher, at 132.1m tonnes.
While Coceral did not comment on its estimates, the data
factored in a fall to just under 12.0m tonnes, for the first time in more than a
decade, in production in the UK, where wet weather cut autumn sowings to 25%
Furthermore, the group forecast a rise of only 123,000
tonnes, to 35.9m tonnes, in the harvest in France, the EU's top wheat grower,
where excessive rains also dogged some regions.
France's two biggest wheat- growing regions, Centre and
Picardie, received more than twice their normal rainfall in December, according
to Meteo-France data.
Although estimating French sowings rising to 5.02m hectares,
a little above the French farm ministry estimate, Coceral pegged the yield at
7.15 tonnes per hectare, a decline on last year's 7.34 tonnes-per-hectare
FranceAgriMer estimates the French crop as being 66% in "good"
or "very good" condition as of March 4, a little below the 68% a year before.
With French barley output seen falling nearly 1.4m tonnes,
thanks to lower sowings and yield hopes, the country's overall grains harvest
will decline year on year, Coceral said.
Spain overtakes UK
The group pegged the German crop at 23.6m tonnes, a rise of nearly
1.2m tonnes year on year, and a figure in line with that from Deutsche
Raiffeisenverband (DRV), the German farm co-operatives association, on
DRV attributed its forecast for a rise in production in part
to the fact that "up to now, there is no significant frost damage to winter
And Coceral forecast bigger wheat harvests in the likes of
Poland and Romania too, besides a jump on one-half in barley output in Spain,
whose crops last year were dented by severe drought.
Indeed, Spain, with a total grains crop of 20.2m tonnes,
will overtake the UK as the EU's fourth-ranked grains producer, Coceral said.